|Lifeless Planet Review|
I picked this game up totally out of the blue after seeing a video of it recommended to me on YouTube and it reminded me of a space walking simulator I had played before. After I had found out a little more about it, I was intrigued and decided to pick it up and was very glad that I did. Read on to find out why.
The game takes place on the titular planet which is lifeless. You play a member of a ISSA team sent to this planet which is hopefully full of life, but the mission crashes and you find out that the planet is actually lifeless. You also can not seem to find your comrades initially so you set out to find them and a truly fascinating tale of mystery and wonder unravels before you as you explore the world.
This game gives you a brilliant sense of vastness and isolation in the enormous almost totally empty desert planet. You feel insignificant and lonely as this tiny person exploring the gigantic planet with no allies and no way to call for help. I haven’t felt this kind of vibe and atmosphere in a game since the likes of Super Metroid, Ico or Shadow Of The Colossus where you are totally alone against it all.
The story unfolds in a genuinely intriguing way and is one of the strongest points of the game. You want to keep going. You want to push on and explore more of this place. You want to find out what’s going on. Even if you are doomed to stay there forever, you want to unravel the mysteries that you keep finding around you. The exposition and background stories revealed in notes and such that you find around the planet are also for once genuinely interesting. You find yourself actually reading them in their entirety and wanting to find more of these notes and find out more of what is going on. This is quite an achievement in itself because avid gamers will know that most notes found in games are usually just collectibles to be skipped through but in Lifeless Planet, they truly are worth reading more to unravel more of the mystery and are a large part of the story. I want to avoid giving spoilers as much as I can to preserve the strong story so you will just have to trust me when I tell you it is the games best point.
The visual are simultaneously a weak point and a strength. While most small scale models that you can see up close such as the characters and other smaller items are a little crudely rendered, everything on a larger scale such as the backgrounds and landscapes are masterfully crafted allowing you to see for miles in the distance in detail. They cause you to cast your eyes out over the horizon and wonder “What’s out there?” further increasing your sense of wonder in the mystery. However, due to some landscapes which are at times relatively featureless, it can be a difficult to know where exactly it is you’re meant to go in some sections. This leaves the player to fumble about trying out various routes, but I would argue that it has to be this way some of the time because after all, it is a “Lifeless Planet” and a lot of it is going to be featureless. Nevertheless, sections like this do pop up from time to time and are irritating. Particularly so when you reach one that is intended as a puzzle platform section, you can be left bouncing high and low and dying many times trying to find the correct route. The same thing can happen with other environmental hazards later in the game where the route through is not easy to find as a lot of it all looks very similar.
There are also a number of scripted sections where your oxygen is low and you have a limited amount of time to find a new tank. While these do add tension to the proceedings, they feel as if they are somewhat forced due to being scripted. Why can you wander around for hours with no oxygen troubles, but as soon as you hit this section, you run out?
Lifeless Planet Review Summary
Lifeless Planet is an excellent indie title that provides mystery, exploration and a sense of wonder in a tight package. There is no combat whatsoever in this game but it never feels lacking. The story and hunt for answers is more than enough to drive you forward and provides very satisfactory conclusions once you reach the end of the journey. At just under 4 hours long, it is also a fairly short game that can be completed in a single evening with ease. For anyone who enjoys a feeling of solitude and a great expedition while searching to uncover the truth, this is definitely worth your while.
Final Score: 4/5